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I feel closer to Russian music. How Chinese singers become stars of Russian stage

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I feel closer to Russian music. How Chinese singers become stars of Russian stage

30.04.2019

Nizhny Novgorod Conservatory student from China Liu Ying Lun performed Lensky part from the Tchaikovsky opera Eugene Onegin in Chuvash State Opera and Ballet Theater. According to music theater critics, preceding Chinese singer performed this part on Russian stage in the middle of 20th century, during Mao Zedong times. Liu Ying Lun told Russkiy Mir how he learned to sing in Russian.

According to Liu he learned to sing correctly while learning and performing Russian romances on stage and at international music contests. His teacher, Associate Professor of Vocal Studies department in Nizhny Novgorod Conservatory Irina Shabordina says that Russian romances are perfect “tool” for preparing Chinese opera singers to understand better nuances of Russian language and culture, and Russian folk traditions.

Dressed in frock coat of Lensky

Liu Ying Lun swipes through pictures on his phone looking for the stage photos in Lensky costume. There are some pictures of happy young people against the backdrop of Moscow city center sights. My friends from China came to visit, and I showed them Moscow, explains the singer.

And finally there are pictures from Eugene Onegin set. In one picture Liu Ying Lun is dressed in gabardine frock coat and curly wig. He is holding hand of blonde Olga. In other picture he points a gun towards the main character in another one. Liu finds the most funny the picture with dead Lensky on the ground, legs wide open.

Liu Ying Lun, Lensky from Eugene Onegin

Our Liu Ying Lun has already 'died' for Russian culture, comments Irina Shabordina. Chinese singer smiles and states that he would turn mad for Russian culture because he's in love with The Queen of Spades and the role of Herman. The singer has admitted that he worked on the Lensky role a lot, but nonetheless was afraid to make language mistakes. He has also confessed that he was worried about his Russian landowner authentic looking. However, make-up artists of Chuvash State Opera and Ballet Theater and his own artistic abilities made a great impression on public.

To promote romance

Our conversation is taking place in Cherepovets where Liu Ying Lun and Irina Shabordina came to participate in the Classical Roses contest as jury members. During three days Chinese singer estimated, critisized, and even helped to improve romance pronunciation to contestants from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Russian provintial cities. During the gala-concert he performed on stage with two curtain calls, and advokated his right to judge.

Cherepovets get used to Chinese singers performing Russian romances. Chinese students from Nizhny Novgorod Conservatory have won contests numerous times. Not only that, several years ago there was a first-time performance of new romance composed by Chinese student with lyrics by Igor Severyanin. The composition matches the sad depth typical for real Russian romance and was included in Severyanin romances compilation issue.


To sing in Russian language is a special art. The hardest part is to pronounce Russian fonema R that doesn't exist in Russian. Irina Shabordina works on pronunciation with particular attention because foreign singer by mispronouncing instead of touching audience would make audience laugh. Gesturing is another problem because Chinese people have their own body language. It is pretty hard to understand. And in some romances every other word is archaic.

Irina Shabordina

According to the vocal teacher, Chinese students benefits of being patient and hardworking. They have scientific approach to all kinds of actions, even creative ones. One of the students has shared with Russkiy Mir how he reached typical for some Russian romances swiftness and agility. He found the most rapid music piece in Russian vocal sheet music compilation, by chance it was the Don Juan's serenade, and sang it over and over for several hours like a tongue twister, until he'd get a great result.

Welcoming home of Irina Shabordina help inspire students in Russian culture. She never limits her educational mission by the university walls. She could easily invite students for a tea or lunch, or even host those who currently doesn't have place to stay. Her family got used to it and support her.


Song brings nations together

Vocal professor Irina Shabordina trains Chinese singers for almost 20 years in Nizhny Novgorod. They come to study in Conservatory pursuing specific studies program. During college years many of them become local stars. They perform at important music venues in Nizhny Novgorod and other Russian cities, participate in classical musical contests and festivals all over Russia.

On the one hand, the public is interested to see and hear Chinese vocalists because of a thirst for exotics. One the other hand, the level of Shabordina's graduates is so high that exotic factor has never been a decisive one.

Majority of graduates return in China where they immediately get jobs at opera theaters and leading ensembles. Meanwhile, some of them after leaving the country of birch chintz are happy to teach romances with Pushkin or Yesenin lyrics in Chinese music schools.

Liu Ying Lun, Eugine Onegin

Ying Yong Chuan who won several Russian romance contests, now teaches in Taizhou University In his interview he has admitted that during his youth he was thinking whether he has to study in Russia or Germany. I was thinking this way – my favourite composers are Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov who studied in Russia, so I have to go here, too, - recalls Ying. Apart of that, Russian opera and folk music is closer to me.

His parents have small transportation company. They were hoping that their son will help them buying another truck, but he went on stage. When I told my father and mother that I have passed all exams and going to Russia they were unpleasantly surprised and said "no". But seeing my devotion, they've let me go.

In Russia the singer fell in love in Volga river. He listened many songs and poems about this river. He liked kindness and hospitality of Russians, but the winter frost took him by surprise his so-called winter coat was good only until October.

Ying Yong Chuan is sure that the song is the best way to bring human beings closer together. The song lets drop linguistic and other barriers, and let people become good friends.


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